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Work: A Story of Experience

VII. Through The Mist
THE year that followed was the saddest Christie had ever known, for she suffered a sort
of poverty which is more difficult to bear than actual want, since money cannot lighten it,
and the rarest charity alone can minister to it. Her heart was empty and she could not fill
it; her soul was hungry and she could not feed it; life was cold and dark and she could not
warm and brighten it, for she knew not where to go.
She tried to help herself by all the means in her power, and when effort after effort failed
she said: "I am not good enough yet to deserve happiness. I think too much of human
love, too little of divine. When I have made God my friend perhaps He will let me find
and keep one heart to make life happy with. How shall I know God? Who will tell me
where to find Him, and help me to love and lean upon Him as I ought?"
In all sincerity she asked these questions, in all sincerity she began her search, and with
pathetic patience waited for an answer. She read many books, some wise, some vague,
some full of superstition, all unsatisfactory to one who wanted a living God. She went to
many churches, studied many creeds, and watched their fruits as well as she could; but
still remained unsatisfied. Some were cold and narrow, some seemed theatrical and
superficial, some stern and terrible, none simple, sweet, and strong enough for humanity's
many needs. There was too much machinery, too many walls, laws, and penalties
between the Father and His children. Too much fear, too little love; too many saints and
intercessors; too little faith in the instincts of the soul which turns to God as flowers to
the sun. Too much idle strife about names and creeds; too little knowledge of the natural
religion which has no name but godliness, whose creed is boundless and benignant as the
sunshine, whose faith is as the tender trust of little children in their mother's love.
Nowhere did Christie find this all-sustaining power, this paternal friend, and comforter,
and after months of patient searching she gave up her quest, saying, despondently:
"I'm afraid I never shall get religion, for all that's offered me seems so poor, so narrow, or
so hard that I cannot take it for my stay. A God of wrath I cannot love; a God that must
be propitiated, adorned, and adored like an idol I cannot respect; and a God who can be
blinded to men's iniquities through the week by a little beating of the breast and bowing
down on the seventh day, I cannot serve. I want a Father to whom I can go with all my
sins and sorrows, all my hopes and joys, as freely and fearlessly as I used to go to my
human father, sure of help and sympathy and love. Shall I ever find Him?"
Alas, poor Christie! she was going through the sorrowful perplexity that comes to so
many before they learn that religion cannot be given or bought, but must grow as trees
grow, needing frost and snow, rain and wind to strengthen it before it is deep-rooted in
the soul; that God is in the hearts of all, and they that seek shall surely find Him when
they need Him most.
So Christie waited for religion to reveal itself to her, and while she waited worked with
an almost desperate industry, trying to buy a little happiness for herself by giving a part
of her earnings to those whose needs money could supply. She clung to her little room,
for there she could live her own life undisturbed, and preferred to stint herself in other